Posted by & filed under Child Development, Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Assessment, Disorders of Childhood, Health Psychology, Physical Illness, Prenatal Development, Research Methods, Stress, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: How many things (life events, situations, crimes, illnesses, etc.) would it be good to be able to predict? We could take the stance that things are in the hand of fate and there is nothing we can do so why bother trying to predict. But what if we could identify people who will, if nothing is done, suffer a potentially fatal illness (that could be avoided with early prevention/treatment efforts? What if we could identify (bad) driving habits that could result in fatal collisions and fix the behaviors before the collisions happen (think about drunk driving). And, what if we could predict which recently conceived fetuses were carrying particular genetic patterns or abnormalities that would, if present, result in fatal conditions that would lead to the death of the resulting newborn soon after birth? Now, before we get any further in this thought exercise lets add a few variables. There is no arguing that fatal outcomes are bad and should be predicted and prevented if possible. However, we also have to consider that in some, in fact in virtually all, of these situations our prediction efforts and our attempts at early prediction (that would provide more lead time to fix or address problems) are not perfect and, in addition, predictive assessment (tests) can be expensive and for many the cost and side-risks of such tests go up quite dramatically as the accuracy of the tests increases. Add to that the very real possible course of action after a positive test (one that says the potentially fatal things WILL happen) might mean that powerfully troubling decisions may be placed on the table. For example, to be perfectly safe we may have to consider a lifetime driving ban for those who test as “at risk” for drunk driving; or our only possible course of action following a positive screen for a fatal illness is to give the person who was tested the bad news; or, in the case of prenatal genetic abnormalities, the parents may get to consider the option of terminating the pregnancy. Now, lets assume that in any and all such cases the involvement of therapists/counsellors would be a necessity. Let’s also assume that the costs associated with such tests, in terms of both money and test related additional risk, increase as the accuracy of the chosen test increase. Also, we will need to find out about and consider how accurate the possible tests are that we could consider using.

So, here is the several faceted challenge in this thought experiment. First think about how you would want to define accuracy. What data would you want to get or be provided? Second, who would/should be offered a test? Who would be offered which test? Would the test be mandatory? Post-testing, who would/should decide what to do next? Think one more time about the accuracy question. Now read the first of the two articles linked below with your thoughts about these questions in mind and see if the article provides you with most of what you feel you need to know to work through this thought experiment. If not, what is missing? Why is that important? Finally, read the second article linked below written by someone who essentially did a version of this thought experiment in relation to the first article and wrote about what they came up with.

Source: First Read: When Thye Warn of Rare Disorders, These Prenatal Tests are Usually Wrong. Sarah Kliff and Aatish Bhatia The New York Times Jan 1, 2022

Second Read: What the New York Times Got Wrong on Prenatal Screening, Ellen Matloff, Forbes.

Date: January 1 and 6, 2022

Image by Fotorech from Pixabay

Article Link: First Read: Second Read:

When potentially bad things could arise in life, we sometime engage in something called screening. As the second article suggested, we use questions and x-ray equipment to screen people’s carry-on luggage as they move through security at the airport but that is only the beginning as suspicious screens are followed up by detailed searches of luggage and even of the people carrying that luggage which is more expensive but also more intensive and more likely to correctly identify genuine risks. We cut costs by only screening those people who are actually going to get onto planes (rather than everyone at the airport). At the level of first screening, we accept a number of false positives (bags that could contain sharp things or dangerous liquids but actually do not when looked at in a more detailed inspection) because only having to take the time and effort to search “positively screened travelers” saves time and money. However, there is something else we have to consider too isn’t there? What about false negatives? Yes, what about dangerous things or people that do NOT get picked up in screening? Are you thinking that false negative rates could lead to screening tests being seen a useless, right? Now think about these questions not just as they apply to airport screening but as they apply to medical screening (e.g., rapid tests versus laboratory tests); or to potential drunk drivers; or to prenatal genetic abnormalities. So, consider that; Screening assessment are indicative but NOT diagnostic; a test’s ability to identify true positives is called its Sensitivity and its ability to identify true negatives is its Specificity. These definitions and limitations outline the HUGE challenge in planning to address any of the examples discussed above. Who to test, how to test, when to test, and what to do with the results and how to manage the risks associated with the screening and diagnostic assessment and as well as the risks associated with NOT testing with testing and then being right or being wrong? Complicated stuff, huh?


Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some things that we currently regularly screen for?
  2. How well do we screen for each of the thing you came up with in responding to the previous question?
  3. Walk through the issues and details of screening program for a prenatal/congenital issue or other medical condition/illness and detail your data, practical, ethical, and counselling challenges at each stage of the process?

References (Read Further):

Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (2002) Practice Bulletin #226, Screening for Chromosomal Abnormalities, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Link

Benn, P., Borrell, A., Chiu, R. W., Cuckle, H., Dugoff, L., Faas, B., … & Yaron, Y. (2015). Position statement from the Chromosome Abnormality Screening Committee on behalf of the Board of the International Society for Prenatal Diagnosis. Prenatal diagnosis, 35(8), 725-734. Link

Gekas, J., Langlois, S., Ravitsky, V., Audibert, F., van den Berg, D. G., Haidar, H., & Rousseau, F. (2016). Non-invasive prenatal testing for fetal chromosome abnormalities: review of clinical and ethical issues. The application of clinical genetics, 9, 15. Link

Westerfield, L., Darilek, S., & Van den Veyver, I. B. (2014). Counseling challenges with variants of uncertain significance and incidental findings in prenatal genetic screening and diagnosis. Journal of clinical medicine, 3(3), 1018-1032. Link

Dondorp, W., De Wert, G., Bombard, Y., Bianchi, D. W., Bergmann, C., Borry, P., … & Cornel, M. C. (2015). Non-invasive prenatal testing for aneuploidy and beyond: challenges of responsible innovation in prenatal screening. European Journal of Human Genetics, 23(11), 1438-1450. Link

Tuohey, R. J., & Repenshek, M. (2008). Ethical Considerations Concerning Screening for Chromosome Aneuploidy: A Response to a 2007 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Practice Bulletin. The Linacre Quarterly, 75(2), 96-111. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Emerging Adulthood, Language-Thought, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Successful Aging.

Description: I am willing to bet that you think of yourself as a reasonable, rational, thoughtful person and that you do feel that you get emotionally caught up in situations and circumstances in ways that might negatively impact your ability to make rational decisions. It IS true that people (adults in particular) CAN be quite rational, but an important question involves whether we are always really being rational when we think we are thinking rationally. It turns out that there are quite a few things we do consistently that reflect biases or non-rational thought processes that we usually do not realize we are doing. SO, think about what possible biases or non-rational thought processes you might use and about what you might do to use less of them so that your rational thoughts are, we1l, more rational. Once you have done a little bit of self-review read the article linked below in which a psychologist with interests in the evolution of human thinking points out a few VERY common biases or non-rational thinking approaches. Knowing what they involve is the first step to doing less of them.

Source: Three ways to be more rational this year, Prof Steven Pinker, Harvard university, BBC News.

Date: January 1, 2022

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, does it make sense that we tend to shortchange our future selves, see patterns and causality (that we bet money or time on) in random events and that we work harder to win arguments that to actually work at understanding what is right in particular situations and circumstances? While the ability to think rationally emerges as our cognitive abilities develop, we need to become aware of aspects of our thought processes that work against being rational and we then need to develop ways to limit their tendency to derail our rationality. A lot to think about, difficult, but very important in the long run and we owe it to our future selves to work on it diligently.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Can you think rationally??
  2. Can you provide an example from your own experience e where your attempts at rational thought were derailed in each of the ways discussed in the linked article?
  3. Can you identify one or two things you can do, or try to do, regularly to avoid having your rational thought processes derailed (and just saying I will try hard not to is insufficient)?

References (Read Further):

Think with Pinker, Professor Pinker’s guide to thinking better, BBC Sounds. Link

Pinker, S. (2021). Rationality: What it is, why it seems scarce, why it matters. Allen Lane. Book

Stanovich, K. E., West, R. F., & Toplak, M. E. (2013). Myside bias, rational thinking, and intelligence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(4), 259-264. Link

Stanovich, K. E., & Stanovich, P. J. (2010). A framework for critical thinking, rational thinking, and intelligence. Link

Stanovich, K. E., & West, R. F. (2008). On the relative independence of thinking biases and cognitive ability. Journal of personality and social psychology, 94(4), 672. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Human Development, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success, The Self.

Description: OK, I realize deeply and fully that we are most definitely NOT even close to being ready to consider even the thinnest of possible silver linings to the COVID debacle. So, just put that aside for now (I will hint at it very cautiously at the end of the second section below) and let’s consider something else. So, how about the self-help industry? Want a few examples? How about 110 of the Best Self-Improvement Books You’ll Ever Read or 100 Best-Selling Self-Help Books of All Time (no this list does not include classics like Plato’s The Cave). Or just Google self-help or drop by a large box bookstore or visit and search one online and you will see an overwhelming array of offerings. Now, consider that supply and demand are linked in that if there is a LOT of stuff in a consumer category then there it is a pretty good bet to assume that there is a lot of that sort of thing being consumed. So, are we that messed up? And does the self-help mega-industry actually help? And are self-help authors, coaches, tipsters, and hucksters qualified to be that? What would good qualifications look like? Are they regulated in any way at all or is it all buyer beware? One final question; given the increasing growth of titles, options, plans, resources and, in particular money spent in this area in recent years do we need more self-help these days that in decades gone by and if so, why is that? Think about these questions for a minute and then read the article linked below for a well-constructed consideration of what is going on in Self-help these days.

Source: Are we done with self-improving yet? Amitha Kalaichandran, The Globe and Mail.

Date: January 7, 2021

Image by ThoughtCatalog from Pixabay

Article Link:

The most common sort of claim or statement made by sellers in the self-help industry is typically some version of “you can easily do way better then you are doing if you just use a few simple tricks and techniques that you do not know about that I can (for a price) teach you.  Chances are pretty good that if you are reading, watching or hearing such claims you are already half hooked. After all, you ARE looking, aren’t you? The author of the linked article wisely talks about the importance of credentials, and we can add to that the importance of research. A self-help author/provider need not be a researcher BUT what they are offering SHOULD be based on much more than their personal experience or that of a few of their previous clients. As well, change promises offered should not be large, though that might be incremental (build towards larger changes) this is because large changes (like many resolutions) are almost impossible to make and to hold to. As a species changes happen in small steps that build or consolidate over time into larger outcomes. Now, where can you find answers to all of these quality control and value related questions in relation to the gargantuan self-help market item pool? Well, sorry to disappoint, but there are really no consumer reports for self-help products or opportunities. Except maybe there is. This is where the pandemic enters the filed of play. The pandemic has impacted almost all aspects of everyone’s lives by adding significant amounts of uncertainty to much of what we do and to much of what we had worked out in our lives prior to COVID’s arrival. Prior to COVID you had worked out or were working out what you were going to do and how you were going to do it in areas like education/career, political stands, positions on big deal issues (like health care, vaccination etc.), relationships and sex roles (how household/child responsibilities were going to be divided and shared). You were working on those things, or you worked on those things in the face of varying degrees of uncertainty and yet you figured them out (or were figuring them out) somehow. Now COVID has brought another tide of uncertainty to many many facets of our lives. What to do? Well, before you go searching for a self-help resource, look inside … reflect on how you made life decisions in these areas before. Did you just float along until something came along and then did that? Did you decide to do what you always knew you would do or what others told you that you should do? Or did you take a bit of time to reflect on what you had learned about yourself and then looked around for options and opportunities that might build on what you had already figured out? Did you engage your curiosity? Did you follow your interests? Did you talk with others about what you were working on? If you used one of the first two strategies that I have described here is a chance for a do-over and an opportunity to try out the third strategy that involves reflecting upon and exploring BOTH yourself AND the world that you are seeing around you NOW (a very useful anti-uncertainty strategy). As you do this you can look for self-help tips and strategies that will help you do what you are already doing rather than requiring that you try something brand new. And if you are using the third strategy already, well, keep it up. If you try this, you will be putting the ‘self’ back into self help and building a compass to navigate your post-COVID life much more effectively than if you bought into most of the self-help resources out there and you will be able to track how it is working for you as the you will have your own data to draw upon along the way.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things do self-help resources NOT do for people?
  2. What should people look for in order to more likely identify self-help resources that will be elective for them?
  3. How might treating our post-COVID, “pivot” circumstances as doing something we have done before help us or at least reduce uncertainty?

References (Read Further):

Here are some links to previous blog posts that may be informative/useful:

Psychology and Covid-19: Mind Control and Identity Development Opportunities

Transformative Travel and Developmental Opportunities

Is Post-Covid a New Start Opportunity?

Anxiety = Uncertainty + Fear, Unwind it.

Psychology and Covid-19: The Toll of Uncertainty

Psychology and Covid-19: Uncertainty is Certain

Despite the Consequences of Curiosity for Cats, Embrace It!

Life Purpose and Goal Setting: Just Do It!

Developmental Resolutions and Getting Jobs That May or May Not Exist Yet

Dear Diary: Maybe You Should Journal Regularly

To be (enter possible job here) or not to be (ditto)? How to approch this question

Life After High School: Is it still an Easter egg hunt or ?

Not “Are You Creative” but “Can You Become Creative”

DiGiovanni, M., Weller, I., & Martin, A. (2021). Pivoting in the pandemic: a qualitative study of child and adolescent psychiatrists in the times of COVID-19. Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health, 15(1), 1-15. Link

Giones, F., Brem, A., Pollack, J. M., Michaelis, T. L., Klyver, K., & Brinckmann, J. (2020). Revising entrepreneurial action in response to exogenous shocks: Considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 14, e00186. Link

Blankstein, M., Frederick, J., & Wolff-Eisenberg, C. (2020). Student experiences during the pandemic pivot. Link

Godinic, D., Obrenovic, B., & Khudaykulov, A. (2020). Effects of economic uncertainty on mental health in the COVID-19 pandemic context: social identity disturbance, job uncertainty and psychological well-being model. Int. J. Innov. Econ. Dev, 6(1), 61-74. Link

Breakwell, G. M., & Jaspal, R. (2020). Identity change, uncertainty and mistrust in relation to fear and risk of COVID-19. Journal of Risk Research, 1-17. Link

Kruglanski, A. W., Molinario, E., & Lemay, E. P. (2021). Coping with COVID-19-induced threats to self. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 24(2), 284-289. Link


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Yah yah, I know, it is New Year’s and we all have to make some resolutions, we all have to beat ourselves up about some of the things we regularly do that we should not do and we need to decide we are not going to do them any-more. How does that usually work for you? Not so good right? So how about this year you just don’t do that? By “that” I mean telling yourself to stop doing something that you have, likely been doing habitually for a long time, … so long that the habit is deeply ingrained. But wait, … I am NOT saying give up on changing for the better. What if, before trying to change your behavior, you take a few minutes and develop a better understanding of what habits are, how they are formed, how they are maintained and THEN how they can be changed? Why not? Can’t be any worse than your previous efforts at behavioral change through New years resolutions! Get started on this new resolution direction by reading the article linked below, there has been a LOT of research done that can be of great help.

Source: Out with the Old, In With the New: Use the Science of Habits to Make Your Goals Stick This Time! Karen F. Deppa, MAPP Magazine.

Date: January 2, 2022

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Article Link:

No, it may not be easy to change a habit. However, if you start with a better understanding of what habits are, how they are formed and maintained and what they do for us, you significantly up your odds of habit change success. So, read thew science, understand the science and then apply the science and you might actually be able to keep one or two of your New Year regulations.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some reasons for why we seem to be so bad at keeping our New Year resolutions?
  2. How are habits formed and maintained and what about this makes them hard to get rid of or change?
  3. Pick a habit you would like to get rid of and write out an understanding of that habit based on the information in the linked article and then write out a plan for changing that habit (then go do it)!

References (Read Further):

Barnett, M. (2019).  Good habits, bad habits: A conversation with Wendy Wood. Behavioral Scientist. Retrieved on November 10, 2021, Link

Galla, B. M., & Duckworth, A. L. (2015). More than resisting temptation: Beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes. Journal of personality and social psychology, 109(3), 508. Link

Houten, R. V., Nau, P. A., & Merrigan, M. (1981). Reducing elevator energy use: A comparison of posted feedback and reduced elevator convenience. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 14(4), 377-387. Link

Neal, D. T., Wood, W., & Drolet, A. (2013). How do people adhere to goals when willpower is low? The profits (and pitfalls) of strong habits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(6), 959. Link

Neal, D. T., Wood, W., Labrecque, J. S., & Lally, P. (2012). How do habits guide behavior? Perceived and actual triggers of habits in daily life. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(2), 492-498. Link

Woolley, K., & Fishbach, A. (2017). Immediate rewards predict adherence to long-term goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43(2), 151-162. Link

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Perhaps without realizing who it belonged to, you have likely hear Jen Paul Sartre’s line from the play he wrote in 1944 that goes “Hell is other people”. Without diving into his existential philosophy, you can see some applicability of this line to the world we are currently living in today (particularly in terms of some of the Covid related social issues we are struggling with). A simple way to look at how the quote applies to today is to say that we are individuals, but we are living around a lot of other individuals who get in the way of us doing what we want and being happy the ways we want. A lot of Psychology can look like it has this sort of individual focus. BUT, maybe we are missing something important by selectively focusing on an individual perspective (even our own). What if we are, in fact, social creatures? What if we do better when we start with the assumption that we ARE socially connected? As an example, think about the case of Panta Petrovic. Not a familiar name? Well Panta lives in Serbia and 20 years ago he became so fed up with “other people” that he left and went and lived alone in a cave. I know, you are thinking, “well there is a cranky crazy guy.” But last summer despite being a confirmed hermit, Panta went into a town near his cave and got a Covid shot (and planned to get all three doses). Why? Well, he was not clear, but Panta did say that he “urge[d] all citizens to get vaccinated.” Now, this is not really a Covid story. It DOES suggest that we individuals might want to pause from time to time and reflect upon our deep social connections and while a lot of current Psychology does not seem to do this very often, there are examples of solid, deep psychological research into the social roots of our being. Have a read through the article linked below to find out about some of this classic work.

Source: If life better when we’re together? Jon Mooallem, The New York Times.

Date: December 30, 2021

Image by eak_kkk from Pixabay

Article Link: (Scroll down and click the last story link)

Tajfel’s minimal group studies are fascinating. How easy it is to invoke a sense of us versus them and see how that drives partisan decision making. We ARE social. We need to be socially engaged, social needed as suggested by the work on volunteering. This social connectivity also emerges following natural disasters. We can even see some of the same powers of social connection where we might least expect them, in the behavior of the “Podium Guy” last January at the American capital. As the linked article’s author suggests, figuring out the forces that produced Podium Guy is an important task for social psychological research so we can figure out how to encourage larger social wholes in future. The results might even help us get out of the Covid pandemic more or less in one piece!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What might Sartre’s quote “Hell is other people” suggest about our general (and psychology’s) understanding of the nature of individuals??
  2. Are the social influences on individual thoughts and behavior discussed in the article experimental noise or central components of what it means, psychologically, to be human?
  3. What implications can you come up with of the minimal group research for current trends and issues in social media?

References (Read Further):

Otten, S. (2016). The Minimal Group Paradigm and its maximal impact in research on social categorization. Current Opinion in Psychology, 11, 85-89. Link

Leyens, J. P., Cortes, B., Demoulin, S., Dovidio, J. F., Fiske, S. T., Gaunt, R., … & Vaes, J. (2003). Emotional prejudice, essentialism, and nationalism The 2002 Tajfel Lecture. European Journal of Social Psychology, 33(6), 703-717. Link

Tajfel, H. (1982). Social psychology of intergroup relations. Annual review of psychology, 33(1), 1-39. Link

Van Bavel, J. J., Packer, D. J., & Cunningham, W. A. (2008). The neural substrates of in-group bias: A functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation. Psychological science, 19(11), 1131-1139. Link

Van Bavel, J. J., & Cunningham, W. A. (2010). A social neuroscience approach to self and social categorization: A new look at an old issue. European review of social psychology, 21(1), 237-284. Link

Van Bavel, J. J., Hackel, L. M., & Xiao, Y. J. (2014). The group mind: The pervasive influence of social identity on cognition. In New frontiers in social neuroscience (pp. 41-56). Springer, Cham. Link

Posted by & filed under Language-Thought, Learning, Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: Research into what happens in your brain when you try and memorize a new fact or procedure has traditionally focused upon the activity or the firing of individual neurons. One event that has been hard to explain using single neuron theories involves what happens when you teach someone a strategy or a mnemonic for organizing the information or procedure they will need to recall later. The question has been, what happens at the neuron level, in our prefrontal cortex (our planning and strategizing area) when a mnemonic strategy or organizing strategy is used? It is important to understand this as memory for the information or procedure IS better when a mnemonic or organizing strategy is used. So, in such conditions, what happens at the level of the neuron? Consolidate its firing pattern? Or what? Think about what might be involved and then read the article linked below that describes what the researchers involved are calling a “breakthrough’ in our understanding of how this phenomenon works at the neuronal level.

Source: Key neural mechanism believed to support advanced cognitive abilities discovered, ScienceDaily.

Date: December 21, 2021

Image by geralt from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, better memory or deeper understandings involves consolidating information or procedures across many more than a single neuron. While how that actually works is not explained in the summary linked article, the idea that more accessible, better recalled information is coded using a larger number of neurons sounds compelling. If you want to find out more about how this might work you can have a peek at a few of the additional articles listed in the Further Reading section below.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do individual simple facts get coded at the neuronal level withing the prefrontal cortex?
  2. What effect does learning a mnemonic or organizational strategy have on how information pr procedures are stored within the prefrontal cortex?
  3. The researchers suggest that their work could lead to advances in the understanding and treatment of disorders of memory and cognition, but they do not suggest how. What might be a possibility or two for how this could work?

References (Read Further):

Bartolo, R., Saunders, R. C., Mitz, A. R., & Averbeck, B. B. (2020). Dimensionality, information and learning in prefrontal cortex. PLoS computational biology, 16(4), e1007514. Link

Duncan, J. (2001). An adaptive coding model of neural function in prefrontal cortex. Nature reviews neuroscience, 2(11), 820-829. Link

Gao, P., Trautmann, E., Yu, B., Santhanam, G., Ryu, S., Shenoy, K., & Ganguli, S. (2017). A theory of multineuronal dimensionality, dynamics and measurement. BioRxiv, 214262. Link

Stringer, C., Pachitariu, M., Steinmetz, N., Reddy, C. B., Carandini, M., & Harris, K. D. (2019). Spontaneous behaviors drive multidimensional, brainwide activity. Science, 364(6437). Link

Gallego, J. A., Perich, M. G., Naufel, S. N., Ethier, C., Solla, S. A., & Miller, L. E. (2018). Cortical population activity within a preserved neural manifold underlies multiple motor behaviors. Nature communications, 9(1), 1-13. Link

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Child Development, Consciousness, Early Social and Emotional development, Health Psychology, Human Development, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Psychology.

Description: OK, quick! Think of an example of something that is disgusting. That did not take long, did it? Theorize for a minute about what \makes something disgusting. Add to your theory a component having to do with possible values of disgust, that is, about what possibly positive roles it might play in our lives and in our social interaction. Got your theory sketched out? I can guarantee you that, as good as it is, it is very likely much narrower than the theories that have arisen from research and reflection for psychologists and others. To see what is missing from your account have a read through the article linked below or listen to a reading of the article. After you are done go and do something distracting to get thoughts of disgusting stuff out of your head!

Source: How Disgust Explains Everything, Molly Young, The New York Times.

Date: December 27, 2021

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, no surprise that disgust is linked to food and eating. Your theory had that bit in it already, didn’t it? What about the idea that disgust is an emotion… a rather basic emotion that has been harnessed to initiate and drive all manner of social and moral guidelines and restrictions, from eating with your hands to having sex with relatives. Jonathon Haidt’s work on the drawing out of moral codes or factors into, among other things, political speeches show how deep and broad the use of disgust and other core feelings can be seen to be. It is about social discipline but also about how constituencies can vary in terms of the moral palate that they hold dear and to which they respond either when raising concerns about their political opponents or about any “other or others”. Think of how individuals and media outlets associated with the far right in the United States talk about “the Dems” and vice versa.  It all cuts deep … just as the feeling associated with things like disgust can cut deep and shape behavior. Those analysis can help to account for how deeply held some political/social beliefs are held and how resistant they are to discussion or adjustment.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some basic or prototypical examples of things that are generally viewed as disgusting?
  2. If disgust is not simply the result of a classically conditioned generalization from a bad eating experience what else in involved?
  3. What role or roles does disgust play in social regulation and in social conflict? What can/should we do about it (if anything)?

References (Read Further):

Rozin, P., & Fallon, A. E. (1987). A perspective on disgust. Psychological review, 94(1), 23. Link

Chapman, H. A., & Anderson, A. K. (2012). Understanding disgust. Link

Oaten, M., Stevenson, R. J., & Case, T. I. (2009). Disgust as a disease-avoidance mechanism. Psychological bulletin, 135(2), 303. Link

Haidt, J., McCauley, C., & Rozin, P. (1994). Individual differences in sensitivity to disgust: A scale sampling seven domains of disgust elicitors. Personality and Individual differences, 16(5), 701-713. Link

Schnall, S., Haidt, J., Clore, G. L., & Jordan, A. H. (2008). Disgust as embodied moral judgment. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 34(8), 1096-1109. Link

Haidt, J., Rozin, P., McCauley, C., & Imada, S. (1997). Body, psyche, and culture: The relationship between disgust and morality. Psychology and Developing Societies, 9(1), 107-131. Link

Graham, J., Haidt, J., & Nosek, B. A. (2009). Liberals and conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations. Journal of personality and social psychology, 96(5), 1029. Link

Inbar, Y., Pizarro, D., Iyer, R., & Haidt, J. (2012). Disgust sensitivity, political conservatism, and voting. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3(5), 537-544. Link

Iyer, R., Koleva, S., Graham, J., Ditto, P., & Haidt, J. (2012). Understanding libertarian morality: The psychological dispositions of self-identified libertarians. Link


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Attitude Formation Change, Clinical Psychology, mental illness, Persuasion, Psychological Disorders, Schizophrenia, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: You have heard the term stigma before, right? It involves the stubborn attachment of negative assumptions or beliefs to a socially marked situation or circumstance. Stigma also is viewed as the inappropriate, ongoing, application of those negative beliefs or assumption when they really should not be in play. For example, imagine you have met a new co-worker or fellow student and discovered after that meeting that they had, in the past and not currently, been diagnosed with depression or with schizophrenia. Now I would hope that you would say to yourself that this new information would not change your attitudes towards this person or negatively impact your interactions with them BUT research suggests that it might and THAT is stigma. How should we deal with stigma (the unfair disadvantage of past events on current/furniture interactions or opportunities)? Yes, better knowledge about the nature and outcomes of psychiatric diagnoses (that they are NOT life-long) are important but how about the approach suggested in the title of the article linked below… that changing the name of stigmatized conditions or disorders might help. What do you think? Read the linked article to see some debate about possibilities.

Source: ‘Schizophrenia’ Still Carries a Stigma. Will Changing the Name Help? Karen Brown, The New York Times.

Date: December 20, 2021

Image by geralt from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, should the name be changed? Or, will a rose by any other name….? While our understanding of situations, circumstances, and, yes, of disorders, change with time the relationship between those changes and the labels or terms used to mark them do not typically change at the same pace and thus stigma remains in place. There HAVE been successful shifts and changes as noted in the article when terms like mental retardation become intellectual disability, but changes can be slow and can lag behind the cutting edge understanding of the condition or disorders involved. Yes, everyone needs to stay very well informed about many things, but everyone does do so with consistency, so what should we do? An important question worthy of thought and research!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is Stigma?
  2. Why might changing the name or term for schizophrenia be a good thing (or why not)?
  3. If a name change will not work to reduce or eliminate stigma what might??

References (Read Further):

Mesholam-Gately, R. I., Varca, N., Spitzer, C., Parrish, E. M., Hogan, V., Behnke, S. H., … & Keshavan, M. S. (2021). Are we ready for a name change for schizophrenia? A survey of multiple stakeholders. Schizophrenia research, 238, 152-160. Link

Dickerson, F. B., Sommerville, J., Origoni, A. E., Ringel, N. B., & Parente, F. (2002). Experiences of stigma among outpatients with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia bulletin, 28(1), 143-155. Link

Corrigan, P. W., & Kleinlein, P. (2005). The impact of mental illness stigma. Link

Spagnolo, A. B., Murphy, A. A., & Librera, L. A. (2008). Reducing stigma by meeting and learning from people with mental illness. Psychiatric rehabilitation journal, 31(3), 186. Link

Amsalem, D., Yang, L. H., Jankowski, S., Lieff, S. A., Markowitz, J. C., & Dixon, L. B. (2021). Reducing stigma toward individuals with schizophrenia using a brief video: a randomized controlled trial of young adults. Schizophrenia bulletin, 47(1), 7-14. Link

Corrigan, P. W., Morris, S. B., Michaels, P. J., Rafacz, J. D., & Rüsch, N. (2012). Challenging the public stigma of mental illness: a meta-analysis of outcome studies. Psychiatric services, 63(10), 963-973. Link

Silva, R. D. D. C., Albuquerque, S. G., Muniz, A. D. V., Ribeiro, S., Pinheiro, P. R., & Albuquerque, V. H. C. (2017). Reducing the schizophrenia stigma: A new approach based on augmented reality. Computational intelligence and neuroscience, 2017. Link

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Clinical Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: We are all very tired of talking about and worrying about Covid and its many issues and yet we are also, as I write this, wondering what the Omicron variation is going to do to our ability to cope and manage individually, withing our communities and especially within our medical systems. Any sort of review of the available advice out there, regardless of issues of bias and selective reporting usually ends up with “get vaccinated” being right up at the top of any list of things you can do to protect yourself, your family and community and the health care system. Do a little bit of speculative psychology and think of what might be done to decrease vaccination hesitancy and increase the rates of 2 or 3 shot vaccination. Before moving on consider this bit of pre-Covid research that indicated that mothers who had experienced cervical cancer were no more likely to have their children vaccinated against HPV (human papilloma virus … a major cause of cervical cancer) than mothers who had no such experiences. So, perhaps upping the potential downside of remaining unvaccinated does NOT increase vaccination rates. So, what to do? Read the article linked below to see some research guided speculation on this question.

Source: Facts Alone Aren’t Going to Win Over the Unvaccinated. This Might, Anupam B. Jena and Christopher M. Worsham, The New York Times.

Date: December 21, 2021

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Article Link:

Di you catch the line saying that even doctors do not always follow the same medical advice they give their patients. Rather than an indictment of doctors this may be suggesting something basically human, but what might that be? The researchers/authors suggest that incentives might be more effective though results are mixed, at least as they related to Covid vaccination. In my province of Alberta, the offering of possible cash prizes for those who got vaccinated did not seem to have a discernable impact upon peoples’ decisions. On the other hand, companies that have made vaccination a requirement of continues employment have only had to place a small percentage of employees on leave or let them go. The challenge is to know how to generalize the things that work (i.e., what about people who work alone for themselves)? We have a lot of work to do.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What effect does elaborating negative consequences on a lack of action (vaccination) have on compliance?
  2. What sorts of incentives for getting vaccinated have been tried and which ones, if any, worked?
  3. So, what now? Are there broader incentives that could be used and how might they be implemented?

References (Read Further):

Worsham, C. M., Woo, J., Zimerman, A., Bray, C. F., & Jena, A. B. (2021). Association of Maternal Cervical Disease With Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Among Offspring. JAMA network open, 4(12), e2134566-e2134566. Link

MacDonald, N. E. (2015). Vaccine hesitancy: Definition, scope and determinants. Vaccine, 33(34), 4161-4164. Link

Frakes, M., Gruber, J., & Jena, A. (2021). Is great information good enough? Evidence from physicians as patients. Journal of Health Economics, 75, 102406. Link

Brehm, M., Brehm, P., & Saavedra, M. (2021). The Ohio vaccine lottery and starting vaccination rates. Link

Taber, J. M., Thompson, C. A., Sidney, P. G., O’Brien, A., & Updegraff, J. (2021). Promoting Vaccination with Lottery Incentives. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Health Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: If you wanted to try and predict which individuals in a group of children would later develop one of a number of early onset psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, addictions, dyslexia, bulimia, or ADHD what would you include in your list of predictors? How long would you list be? How accurately would your predictions be? Do you think you would be able to make your predictions using only 3 variables and do you think you could do so with 90% accuracy? That would be rather amazing, wouldn’t it? Well, have a read through the article linked below to find out about how researchers at McGill University approached these questions.

Source: A new understanding of mental illness, ScienceDaily.

Date: December 8, 2021

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, issues with dopamine pathways plus early childhood abuse and/or neglect, plus temperamental impulsivity and emotional control issues taken together predict an array of early onset psychiatric issues with 90 percent accuracy. In a way the is similar to the health consequences of ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences and the psychosocial foundations of physical heath and wellness … search ACE on this blog site and elsewhere) the research is suggesting a rather small collection of variables that predict a rather large array of problematic outcomes. So now what? Well, as the researchers indicate more research is definitely needed and they have received funding to do some of that themselves. What is also definitely needed is thought and research into what sorts of (EARLY) interventions can be mounted or focused on those who would benefit from it according to this line of research. What can be done about the dopamine pathway issues? The other two are linked and, thankfully, we have clearer pathways to positive effects there. Parents who abuse or neglect their children are also much more likely to be parents who do not cope with any temperament related challenges their children present. Early intervention programs that identify families at risk for sub-optimal child developmental outcomes and for parent challenges and offer the support of a regular home visitor have been shown to have some positive effects. Comprehensive early childhood education programs beginning with programs like Head Start but also including culturally grounded programs for marginalized groups such as Indigenous people, low SES groups and new immigrant groups also show success. So, there is a LOT that we can do, but perhaps we need to work on doping it more systematically. More research and more research guided intervention is definitely needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the list of early onset psychiatric disorders that the teacher looked at include?
  2. What sorts of things do those early onset psychiatric disorders have I common?
  3. Map out a research agenda and a research informed intervention development agenda that would expand on the results of the researcher discussed in the linked article? How might these results be moved forward from research to social policy and programming?

References (Read Further):

Iqbal, M., Cox, S. M. L., Jaworska, N., Tippler, M., Castellanos-Ryan, N., Parent, S., … & Leyton, M. (2021). A three-factor model of common early onset psychiatric disorders: temperament, adversity, and dopamine. Neuropsychopharmacology, 1-7. Journal Abstract Link

Davies, P., Cicchetti, D., & Hentges, R. F. (2015). Maternal unresponsiveness and child disruptive problems: The interplay of uninhibited temperament and dopamine transporter genes. Child Development, 86(1), 63-79. Link

Lovallo, W. R. (2013). Early life adversity reduces stress reactivity and enhances impulsive behavior: Implications for health behaviors. International journal of psychophysiology, 90(1), 8-16. Link

Lukasiewicz, M., Neveu, X., Blecha, L., Falissard, B., Reynaud, M., & Gasquet, I. (2008). Pathways to substance-related disorder: a structural model approach exploring the influence of temperament, character, and childhood adversity in a national cohort of prisoners. Alcohol & Alcoholism, 43(3), 287-295. Link

Schouw, J. E., Verkes, R. J., Schene, A. H., & Schellekens, A. F. (2020). The relationship between childhood adversity and adult personality revealed by network analysis. Child abuse & neglect, 99, 104254. Link

Overbeek, G. (2017). Parenting intervention effects on children’s externalizing behavior: the moderating role of genotype and temperament. Current opinion in psychology, 15, 143-148. Link